For his first three and a half seasons in Nashville, Ryan Johansen played his game and garnered some of his best seasons in the NHL. Then the 2019-20 season came along, and something changed.
During the shortened 2019-20 season, Johansen could only muster 36 points (14 goals, 22 assists), well shy of his usual production numbers. This current season finds Johansen only registering four assists through eleven games so far.
The trick with moving Johansen is his contract. He still has a few years left on his current contract that pays him $8M a year. Finding a team that is willing to take on that amount, knowing Johansen has struggled for the past couple of seasons, could be challenging.
An option would be to leave him unprotected in the upcoming Seattle Kraken expansion draft. This would require some pre-draft negotiations with Seattle, but could work out for all involved.
Clearing Johansen’s contract would provide the Predators with some cap space leverage to go after another superstar forward.
Whether a trade comes at the trade deadline, in the offseason, or he gets moved in the expansion draft, Johansen’s time in Nashville may be drawing to a close.
It’s still early in the season, and things could turn around for Johansen. He’s also now dealing with an injury that hopefully won’t linger for too long. He missed the Predators’ last game against the Florida Panthers, which ended in a 2-1 loss.
But if Johansen fails to turn things around, a change in scenery may very well be in his future.